Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Roll the Dice

Most of the time when I set out to create an image I have a firm idea in mind and that is the way it should be, but not always

If you always plan out your work you never give yourself the opportunity to grow. Sure it is tempting to settle on one style, especially if the juries have taken a liking to it. Why not give them what they want?

Because juries are fickle, think high school sweetheart, one minute undying love and the next she’s off with the guy in the Corvette. Yes of course men are fickle too, that’s why Playboy magazine has stayed in business all these years. Taking a look at what you can’t have is an old American pastime.

So juries like the men and women who make them up are fickle and if you try to target their tastes you might just miss because they haven’t a clue what they’ll like an hour from now.

Okay, I admit I’m a photographer and not fit to talk about the creative process for painters, sculptors or carvers, but I do know a little bit about luck and how it works for an against the best laid plans of mice and men.

When I was still a dispatcher working from midnight till dawn I was asked to attend a meeting. This meeting was a pitch session looking for writers to write murder mystery plays. (If you haven’t seen one it’s where they invite you in, sit you down and later in the evening kill someone off for your dining pleasure.)

The guys who were my competition were formidable, one was an established actor with credits at every theater in town and three surrounding counties and the other was a professor with published works and tenure. Me? I was a first watch dispatcher with an itch to write.

Took me five weeks to scratch out that first play, it wasn’t all that good, the producer wanted a murder on a train and something Agatha Christieish. I managed and much to my surprise he bought it. He had no other choice, both of the other guys bowed out. The sale was a nightmare and the guy was a pain but I was a produced playwright, so there. And the tale of what made it such a nightmare is a story for another time.

You see the lesson? That’s right, I finished the work while the other guys didn’t so even if it wasn’t the best work ever it sold. And that is likely to happen with your work too. Finish it and submit it and let the jury decide if it is what they want. They may surprise you.

Now one more war story, I like to haunt thrift stores and pawn shops. People throw out stuff that is still good but they don’t want to take the time to figure out what is wrong with it or to get the one part which will put it back in working order.

On one of my haunts I found an old Sony Mavica 1.2 Megapixel camera. I know even phones have an eight megapixel camera now so what good is a 1.2? Not much if it is your only or main camera, but for me it wasn’t. I bought it for less than the cost of a cake box of CDs.

The Mavica’s claim to fame was that it recorded the pictures, in .jpg format to a floppy disc. Now when it came out, USB was in its infancy and not many computers had a USB port, but they all had floppy disc drives. So getting your pictures from the camera to the computer was a snap even if they weren’t ever going to be wall-sized prints.

When I started examining the camera I discovered it had an integrated Memory Stick slot and in that slot was a fairly new memory stick. Seems this Mavica was a dual purpose camera, floppies for those without USB and the memory stick for those with.

Now the moral of this story is I got a spare camera which I don’t mind if it gets dropped, dunked or stolen and a memory stick which is worth more than the camera anyway.. I took a shot in the dark and hit a bull’s-eye.

So how ‘bout you? Are you going to stick with the tried and true or are you going to take a swing at the great unknown?

And yes there is an art tie-in. I watched a program on the Impressionists and saw a Degas I’ve seen a thousand times, but this time it made me ask if I could duplicate some of the technique.

Out came the editing software and the old pictures and a half hour later I had this…

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